Our journey to the Arctic will bring together a dynamic international team of students, scientists, historians, artists, elders, explorers, authors, educators, leaders, innovators and polar experts. The dynamics, positive energy and synergies of such a group together on this Arctic expedition are sure to create an incredible environment for learning and discovery.


Students on Ice provides students with unique educational experiences that will challenge the way they perceive the world. Our aim is not to simply provide students with a trip to a unique destination, but rather to give students an opportunity to have an aesthetic experience in some of the most wild and awe-inspiring ecosystems in the world. We do not want students to just pass through a place with camera in hand, but rather to listen to the land; to feel these natural places, and in turn, explore how we as humans feel when immersed in such places. Ultimately, we hope students will experience a transformative connection with nature; a connection that changes the way they understand and act in the world.


SOI's approach to education weaves together elements of experiential, expeditionary and problem-based learning. In starting with a very hands-on approach, active participation and critical thinking are important elements in the SOI learning process. Through posing questions, experimenting and constructing meaning, the learning becomes personal, relational and exploratory in nature. Our expedition will become a symbolic learning journey, from the initial development of ideas, to addressing problems and possible solutions, to final reflections. We recognize that the journey will be unique for each student, as will the manner in which each student effects positive change in her/his individual lives following the expedition.


On expedition, several different learning formats are used depending on the topic being explored, our location, ice and weather conditions, the skills and experiences of the education team members, and the interests of the student participants we have brought together. These learning formats include: presentations, seminars, workshops and hands-on activities that will be shore, Zodiac, and ship-based in setting. SOI also incorporates small group discussions and other reflection opportunities into our days through Pod Teams.

Pod Teams support student learning by connecting youth participants with peers and mentors in smaller educational circles. The purpose of the Pods is to give students an opportunity to reflect, question, share and process the experiences they live each day on the journey. Working with skilled facilitatorsm student participants consider different topics, themes, leading questions and work through learning activities that guide their reflection. Pod facilitators consult with students to determine how they should use their time together. They also help students think deeply about daily experiences, explore experience impact on individual consciousness, and translate these into potential positive outcomes in their respective home communities and lives. Pods offer students a framework through which they can create personal knowledge.


The expedition’s education program has three main goals:

GOAL 1 -

The first educational goal of the expedition is to promote student learning about

Polar Fundamentals include such areas of study as the geological, geopolitical, and cultural history of the region the group is travelling in; geography; terrestrial ecology; flora and fauna; history of exploration in the region; glaciology; oceanography; marine biology;atmospheric sciences; and contemporary issues.

GOAL 2 -

The second educational goal of the expedition is to engage students to consider ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES and SOLUTIONS

The SOI program puts a strong emphasis on environmental literacy and fosters personal connections to nature. Expedition participants will be invited to consider environment in the broadest sense of the word, learning to regard the planet as a global ecosystem; a system in which all natural and human created systems are interconnected and how they interact with each other. Students will explore environmental issues such as climate change, conservation, biodiversity, energy, resource depletion, population growth, consumption and pollution, and consider relevant solutions. Students will also learn about the dependency of social and economic systems on natural systems. Students will examine fundamental connections we have to each other and the planet through our relationships to resources and other species, and our interaction with all living things. Considering the human and scientific dimensions of environmental issues, students will learn about the importance of environmental factors to human well-being.

Woven into this expedition is the overarching theme of Environmental Leadership. Humans are part of nature and are bound by the laws of the natural world. However, in today's mechanistic, consumer-oriented world our lifestyles have led to a disconnection from nature. SOI believes we are often unaware or apathetic to how our most basic needs are met. Over-consumptive practices have led to resource depletion, atmospheric pollution, diminishing biodiversity, and climate change. SOI is a proponent for a global society that lives more sustainably. The expedition will develop and support young leaders in their effort to lead the way towards a sustainable future.

Expedition presentations, discussions, workshops and activities will focus on current environmental and socio-economical issues affecting the Arctic. Some of the of workshops and activities will include:

  • Wildlife identification and observation
  • Students working with education team members on ongoing scientific research (i.e. seabird surveys, plankton tows focusing on marine diversity, ocean current and freshwater aquatic studies)
  • Nature and personal interpretation through various activities (i.e. photography, landscape art, printmaking, journal writing/keeping, music, dramatic arts)
  • Technology and nature (i.e. cetacean vocalization, geographic information system mapping, conductivity-temperature-depth seawater casts and analysis)
  • Youth forums on agency, leadership and steps toward sustainable living
  • Ecological footprint and expedition carbon footprint
  • Hiking and shore walks

GOAL 3 -

The third educational goal of the expedition is to encourage students to MAKE MEANING from their educational experience and support them as they make future plans, decisions and TAKE ACTION!

Students will create personal knowledge and develop their leadership on the expedition. They will explore how youth are effective agents of change and how their efforts can contribute to positive societal action. They will consider opportunities to establish sustainable livelihoods and make ecologically-informed choices early in their lives. Participant will also explore how the choices they make can have a ripple effect and the actions they take can make a difference. In developing the leadership component of our expedition's goals, SOI will facilitate group discussions on ways to get involved in youth-based environmental, economical and social initiatives, scientific research, and other work upon returning home.

SOI Alumni have developed the idea of Generation G – “a generation for the twenty-first century.” This idea is not defined by age or any singular activity; it is a growing movement! Generation G is a generation of global citizens that are becoming known for positive leadership, a caring approach, thinking forward and developing creative solutions. Generation G is becoming an international movement of people who have already begun making choices for a sustainable future. SOI encourages all expedition student participants to join Generation G, a global force that is fostering a broad-based environmentally literate and responsible mind-set. Generation G is inspiring change; it is changing the way humans interact with the natural world and each other. It is an approach to living that respects all life and is informing choices at a critical time.

The Polar Ambassador Pledge is a commitment that students and staff are invited to make to each other on all SOI expeditions. The promise is that participants make changes in the way they live and act in the world. Part of this means sharing the experience of visiting a polar region. The other critical part of this commitment is to reduce our impact on the planet by changing things at home, at school, in our communities and countries. This initiative was designed to be personally relevant for each student and be a bridge between the expedition experience and the actions students can take when they return home. The SOI Polar Ambassador Program provides a framework for goal setting and benchmarks the students to work to meet. One of these is for all students to give presentations about their new experiences and knowledge to their schools, sponsors and other community groups. This has proven to be a great way for the students to process their expedition thoughts, ideas and experiences. The students become ambassadors for the polar regions and for their countries, communities, schools, and sponsor organizations.


- We are at a critical point in the Earth’s history. Together, we will develop the knowledge, skills, perspectives and practices needed to be polar ambassadors and environmentally responsible citizens.

- Youth have a key role to play in shaping the world of today and the world of tomorrow. Youth make a difference!

- We are part of Nature. Our future is tightly linked to biodiversity, the huge variety of other animals and plants, the places they live and their surrounding environments, all over the world.

- Future decisions regarding Arctic sovereignty, governance and development will affect Arctic environments, societies, and international relations.

- Inuit continue to maintain their unique culture within their distinct homeland. Despite modern influences and conveniences, Inuit have retained their language, core knowledge and beliefs. Inuit knowledge contributes to the advancement of a sustainable Arctic and a sustainable planet.

The expedition's education program consists of three key elements:


A pre-expedition preparatory program designed to help get students into an Arctic mindset is available on the Students on Ice website at www.studentsonice.com under the Education Program's Arctic section. This program is web-accessible and self-directed in nature.

Prior to the expedition, students are also encouraged to do as much reading and research as possible. This site has some excellent resources to help get students started, as well as a suggested reading list. Be sure to check out many of the web-links listed on this site and the stories, announcements and links posted to SOI's Blog. Begin familiarizing yourself with the many issues facing the Arctic.

Students are encouraged to prepare a list of questions that are of interest to them in their personal expedition journal.

Students on Ice encourages student participants to answer the following questions and complete the following task BEFORE their arrival to Ottawa:


1) Where do I come from? (…and on a broader level, what is the most special place to me in the world? Why is it important to me? How has it changed since I’ve known it?)

2) What do I think is the significance of this expedition experience? (How will I make meaning of it? How might it inform my life path?)

3) What am I especially interested to learn about?

4) How will I go about sharing what I've learned when I return home?

5) Why does the Arctic matter?

6) What does the Arctic mean to me? (…and on a broader level, what does Nature or the natural world mean to me? Describe my relationship with the natural world [if you have one].)

7) How is the Arctic relevant to where I live?

8) Describe an example in your home community of a recent initiative, project, policy, and/or action that has led to positive social and environmental change.


In the personal journal that we have asked you to bring, reflect on the expedition themes and questions we have offered to you. Be prepared to share your ideas with other participants upon arriving to Ottawa!


During the expedition there will be many different activities each day including:

  • Visits to various Arctic communities and interaction with community members
  • Landings, shore hikes and Zodiac cruises
  • Presentations
  • Workshops and hands-on activities
  • Small group discussions
  • Participation in on-going scientific research with education team members
  • Whale, Polar Bear, Seabird, Walrus, Seal and Iceberg spotting

The Students on Ice Education Team will be eager to interact with, interpret, excite and mentor students throughout each day. Take advantage! A one on one conversation at meals can be equally or more informative than attending a presentation.


A forum will conclude the expedition's education program. This will be an opportunity for us to address many of the important issues we have learned about, facing the Arctic and the planet. It will be an opportunity to generate ideas, solutions and recommendations for action and change.

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